Monday, October 29, 2007

Up To No Good

Gayle at Dragon Lady's Den has just alerted me to the outrage of the week or even month (this one and the next). It seems that a traditional recitation during the flag folding ceremony has been banned. It was banned because of this verse.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen
represents the lower portion of the seal of King David
and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The objections are anonymous, yet the objection to this particular verse is curious.

Now the recitation itself is fairly sectarian. I'm not sure a Hindu or an atheist would approve. However, commenter Old Soldier at the Dragon Lady's says:
First, accodring to OSD the flag folding ceremony is part of the honors provided; not the recital.

Second, the recital is a tradition that has an unknown origin. It has had variations depending upon the organization providing the recital. One version seems to have become the accepted prose.

Third, neither the flag folding ceremony nor the recital are statutory, and neither are included in any flag etiquette writings.

As many of your commenters and you have indicated, it should be none of the government's business what a family choses as traditions for thier departed loved one. The government provides access to the cemetary based upon service and kinship to veterans. There should be no restrictions to traditions desired by the bereaving provided they [the traditions] are not immoral or unethical.

Most veterans know what the flag stands for and it should not take a recital at a funeral to remind his/her family and other mourners.

Now, all that said (without emotion); I cannot believe one complaint would force our government to stop allowing what has become and accepted traditon at the funeral of veterans.
I would object if this was required, or if recited by some government official other than a chaplain, however I can see no possible reason for not letting those who want to be part of the ceremony to say these words or any others. Our Constitution has some words on the matter.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
They should be final.

Evidently our vets know the Constitution better than the Government does (what a surprise).
During thousands of military burials, Veterans Administration employees and volunteers have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors. The fourth fold, for example, refers to God's "divine guidance." The 11th fold glorifies "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." And the 12th fold glorifies "God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost." Now the National Cemetery Association has made a decision to ban flag-folding recitations by VA employees and volunteers at all 125 national cemeteries -- all because of one complaint about a ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery in California that included a reference to God.

Rees Lloyd is director of the California Defense of Veterans Memorials Project and part of a 16-member detail that has performed military honors at more than 1,400 services. He says veterans -- and in particular, American Legionnaires -- are outraged by the ban.

"It's outrageous," he says bluntly. "These are decisions that should be made by the families of our deceased veteran comrades and not by Washington bureaucrats -- and most certainly not by any narcissistic, disaffected, offended atheist, agnostic, or any other [person] who is upset or offended by the word 'God' or a religious symbol which might offend his delicate sensibilities."

Lloyd vows that even if there are "a hundred-million offended atheists," he and other American Legionnaires will stand against the ban.

"We will defy this ban, pure and simple," he states. "If the families ask us to recite the flag-folding ceremony, we will abide by the wishes of the family -- not [by the wishes of] some bureaucrat sitting in an air-conditioned office in Washington, DC, or some lawyer wearing a diaper back there whose main mission in life is to protect his own behind instead of standing up for the American people and saying enough is enough."
Yep. Enough.

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